A panel of three judges of Gaborone High Court Justices Gabriel Komboni, Tebogo Tau and Mokwadi Gabanagae has reinstated Masego Mogwera as the President of Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU).
Delivering the judgment on Friday, the court ruled that the decision to suspend Mogwera as BOPEU president was unlawful and set aside. “The proceedings of the meeting held on the 27th of April 2019 and chaired by the first respondent are set aside and the decision taken at the said meeting are declared null and void,” reads the judgment.
The meeting according to the court was illegal as it was reconvened after an aborted meeting on the 26th of April 2019 due to lack of quorum. “I therefore agree with the applicant that the aborted meeting of 26th April 2019 having been inquorate could not validly take decision to reconvene on the 27th of April 2019. Such decision was null and void,” reads part of the judgment.
The court said that the decision by Olefile Monakwe to continue with the meeting after it was dispersed by Mogwera was inappropriate and unlawful. “The position of the law however is that it does not necessarily follow that the decision of the unlawful meeting and unlawful meeting itself can be set aside,” reads the judgment.
The court found that there were no minutes of the reconvened meeting after it was dispersed by Mogwera. “The minutes would have assisted in cross referencing between the agenda and what was discussed in the meeting so as to determine the relationship between the discussion and the agenda and the resolutions,” said the panel of three judges.
The court agreed with Mogwera that the decision to suspend her and Secretary General Topias Marenga was not part of the special National Executive Committee meeting thus therefore it was of no legal force and effect.
This is the second victory for Mogwera as she recently triumphed over Monakwe over her suspension as the chairperson of the Board of Directors of Babereki Investments -the commercial wing of BOPEU.
In an interview Mogwera said the court battles have been emotionally draining but she was given strength in the knowledge that she is fighting for the rights of workers. “They were fighting me because they wanted to cover corruption which has been done by their friends who were previously leading BOPEU,” she said, taking a pot shot at her predecessor.
Contacted for comment Monakwe said BOPEU attorneys are still studying the judgement and will advice them accordingly on whether to appeal the judgment. “You must understand that she was expelled by Congress, the supreme body of the trade union and therefore she is still not a member of BOPEU,” he said.
Mogwera and Monakwe have been involved in a bitter tussle for the control of the BOPEU since a meeting on April 27, 2019 that purportedly decided to, among others, suspend the former from the union. Mogwera was expelled from BOPEU during the union’s special general congress, which took place from November 30 to December 1, 2019. At the time of her expulsion, she was still serving her suspension from the union.
*See page 08 for a full response to the judgment by BOPEU leadership